RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – The BASS pros on Lake Dardenelle showed how they qualified for the inaugural Bassmaster Elite 50 tournament on Wednesday, averaging 10 pounds of fish per angler on the first of four competition days. Alabama’s Tim Horton outfished his fellow all-stars with 17 pounds and 7 ounces, giving him just a 4-ounce edge over his closest competition.

“I was really pleased,” Horton said. “I didn’t expect to catch that much today so, yeah, I was really pleased. I’m fishing about mid-lake. I don’t even know the name of it, all I know is it was a mid-lake area. Today was the best day I’ve had, but you catch a few here and a few there and you start to get committed to those areas.”

Anglers had to adjust slightly to accommodate the Elite 50 series 10 a.m. launches, which put them on the water about four hours later than the average start on the CITGO Bassmaster Tourament Trail presented by Busch Beer.

“I think they are biting better in the afternoon,” Horton said. “As it warmed up it got better. The late start really helped everybody. I don’t think it will be that much tomorrow. I think the lake is starting to fish much smaller. There are some select areas that everyone has figured out and there will be a lot of people in one area tomorrow.”

The big catch earned Horton a $1,000 check from Busch for the Busch Heavyweight award, given to the participating angler with the largest catch each tournament day. He and Texan Zell Rowland split the $1,000 prize for the Purolator Big Bass of the day. Both of their largest fish weighed in at 6 pounds, 2 ounces. If they hold out as the heaviest bass for the entire tournament, they will split another grand for the Purolator Big Bass of the Tournament.

His 6-2 lunker anchored Rowland’s second place sack of 17-3, a mere 4 ounces out of first place.

Kelly Jordon’s 16-pound, 4-ounce catch was good enough for third place. Jordon got his limit early and spent the rest of the day at a more relaxed pace, but according to the Texas pro, something was missing.

“It was really weird not having an amateur to fish with you,” Jordon said. “I got my limit fairly early and I told my observer, ‘I’m going practicing man, can you fish?’ He said that he wasn’t allowed to fish at all and I was like, ‘Sorry, man. I’m going fishing.’

“I had a pretty solid day today. I’m pretty happy with it. We’ll see if I can do it again tomorrow. I sure hope so.”

Day two of the Bassmaster Elite 50 series gets under way Thursday. Launch begins at 10 a.m. with weigh-ins starting at 7 p.m. at Lake Dardanelle State Park Lodge.

Fans can catch the first event of the new Bassmaster Elite 50 series on Arkansas' Lake Dardanelle, Saturday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. ET/9:30 a.m. CT on ESPN2

Friday and Saturday, BASS will hold the Sponsor Expo. The Expo takes place from 3-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday at the Lake Dardanelle State Park. Admission is always free.

The Bassmaster CastingKids program sponsored by CITGO will be held in conjunction with the BASS Sponsor Expo Saturday, April 17, from 3 p.m.-6 p.m. at the Lake Dardanelle State Park. Children between the ages of 7 and 14 can participate in the contest with the chance to earn a scholarship.

The event and instruction to youngsters will be facilitated by the Arkansas BASS Federation.

Following the Lake Dardanelle event, the four-event Bassmaster Elite 50 series travels the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway in Columbus, Miss., May 19-22, to Prattville, Ala., on the Alabama River, June 2-5, and concludes on the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers in Paducah, Ky., June 16-19.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass-fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail presented by Busch Beer include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Skeeter Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamaha Outboards, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Lowrance Electronics, Flowmaster Exhaust Systems, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops, and BankOne.

Associate Sponsors include G3 Boats.

Local Sponsors include Russellville Advertising and Promotion Commission.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.